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Smith Moore Leatherwood Defends Former Presidential Candidate, John Edwards

Smith Moore Leatherwood Defends Former Presidential Candidate, John Edwards

June 9, 2012

On May 31st, Former presidential candidate John Edwards was found not guilty on one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions, and the jury deadlocked on five other felony charges brought under federal campaign law including four counts of accepting illegal campaign contributions, one count of conspiracy and one count of making false statements. Defending Edwards were Smith Moore Leatherwood attorneys Alan Duncan and Allison Van Laningham, and Chadbourne attorney Abee Lowell.

The charges against Edwards hinged upon approximately $1 million from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon and Texas trial lawyer Fred Baron used to cover up Edward's affair with videographer Rielle Hunter. Edwards and Hunter conceived a child in 2007 but asked Andrew Young, a campaign aide, to claim paternity of the child. Prosecutors argued that such payments amounted to excessive campaign contributions. However, Edwards' defense team asserted that Edwards was unaware of the payments, and that such payments were not covered by federal campaign law.

Duncan and Van Laningham avoided the salacious details of the case, and instructed jurors to "follow the money." Alan Duncan explained, "There's an old adage: don't judge a person by their best moments; and don't judge them by their worst moments. Inarguably, John had some bad moments, but we did not for second believe that he had knowingly and willfully violated the law. We defended him on that basis." The Edwards jury spent nine days in deliberation. Federal prosecutors ultimately decided not to retry the case.

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